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  • Writer's pictureDr. Laura Pomerenke, MD


One of the most frustrating things about breast cancer screening* guidelines has been how frequently they have changed and that there are different recommendations from different organizations. How’s a girl to know what to do? Fortunately, most of the respected organizations have finally come to a consensus about screening recommendations. We now realize that one size doesn’t fit all. Screening should be based on risk, so first it's important to know your risk (see prior blog.) Once you are armed with that information, here are the most up to date guidelines... (subject to change)

Normal risk (life time risk of up to 20%)

  • Annual mammograms (3D or tomosynthesis) from age 40-55.

  • Women age 55 and older can go to every other year (not every third, fourth, etc…) and continue as long as they have a life expectancy of at least 10 years.

  • There is no evidence that a clinical breast exam is beneficial in average risk women, but we do recommend that you “know your normal,” and report any changes.

High risk (lifetime risk of >20-25%, especially those with genetic mutations)

  • Begin yearly screening MRI at 25, and yearly mammogram at 30.

  • Continue screening as long as there is a life expectancy of 5-10 years.

  • Clinical breast exam twice a year.

The benefit of screening ultrasound has not been proven. It’s important to remember that no test is perfect, there may be false positives or false negatives. If you are worried about a change, see your doctor.

For more information on screening guidelines go to Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis

*Screening only applies to someone with no symptoms or exam findings.

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